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WAVE 2016

Grey skies cleared, the rain dried up and the sun came out in perfect time for optometrists from across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to attend WAVE 2016 in August, at Scarborough Beach in Western Australia.

Optometry Western Australia’s (OWA) annual conference continues to develop a strong following with 220 delegates attending this year’s WAVE conference at Scarborough Beach and visitors from interstate and overseas up 10 per cent on 2015.

Tony Martella, CEO of OWA said moving the venue from Perth’s CBD to the Rendezvous Hotel on the coast was a huge success. Guests enjoyed the picturesque outlook, took the opportunity to duck out for a refreshing swim and to enjoy the thriving entertainment quarter beneath the hotel.

WAVE 2016 began with a half-day conference dedicated to early career optometrists now working in WA, fondly known as OWAGG’s. David Hsu, Chair of OWAGG worked with OWA to coordinate an education program tailored to meet their needs. “The topics were focussed on therapeutics, contact lenses, and how we should approach professional development. We also heard about the Association’s services.”

The topics were focussed on therapeutics, contact lenses, and how we should approach professional development

Another OWAGG who attended the lecture series was Kiran Sookroo. Now in his third year of professional practice, he said it was valuable to hear from experts in their field, among them National President Kate Gifford and local WA member Damien Ezekiel. “The series was less formal than the main conference. With everyone in the room around the same age and with the same level of experience, it was easy to ask what otherwise might be considered an ill-informed question. We had people exchanging ideas and experiences, which you don’t find happening at bigger conferences.”

Kate Hegarty, former Chair of OAWGG, agreed, adding, “’The OWAGG lecture series is an opportunity to get to know other young optometrists. We all studied inter-state and many of us are making our homes in WA so this was an opportunity to establish networks and help people who are new to WA feel welcome.”

WAVE Educational Program

Delegates to the WAVE educational program were equally impressed. Stuart Mackay from Thomas and Mackay Optometrists attended WAVE for the first time and said he’ll definitely be back. “I’d heard great reports and was particularly keen to experience the practical sessions that were offered… I will be attending next year. I loved the conference and it’s a chance to catch up with people I don’t get to see too regularly.”

“I was very interested in the speaker list and context which was delivered brilliantly. I haven’t experienced that at a state conference before.”

Henk Ackerman, who owns a rural practice in Manjimup WA, said Dr. Bang Bui’s presentation was a highlight.” Dr. Bang Bui is a brilliant man, an incredible presenter and a humble academic. His lecture on glaucoma progression and management instilled confirmation and continued learnings from the recent Ocular Therapeutics course.

Exhibitors Invaluable

A strong line-up of 30 exhibitors, representing a cross-section of the sector, attended WAVE 2016. Among them were France Medical, HICAPS, Bayer, Tear Lab, CooperVision, Contact Lens Australia and OptiqueLine.

“To be an exhibitor at WAVE is a unique experience,” said Gary Bosert from France Medical. “You feel like part of the family.

“As a new global supplier to optometrists and ophthalmologists, it is important for us to be close to them and their needs. Conferences like WAVE are perfect for us as we manage to meet clients over two days. We are not there to sell, but to show, explain and answer questions; we are there to build partnerships,” he said.

Tracey Pels from Hicaps said WAVE presented an important opportunity to talk to customers. “I believe companies under-estimate the value of speaking with customers directly. Coming to WAVE was not just about sales and promotion of our product, it was about asking our customers what they think of our products… whether we are meeting needs,and if they have concerns.

“I think WAVE in particular is important as optometrists on the East coast have the opportunity to attend a few different events close to home, whereas this is the only event in WA. It was also an honour to be part of Optometry Western Australia’s 100 year celebrations.”

Summing up the contribution that exhibitors make to WAVE and other Optometry conferences, Henk Ackerman said, “I appreciate the effort that exhibitors go through to display their products at WAVE. The opportunity to tangibly view products instils confidence in our future acquisitions. We could never have a conference without them.”

A Centenary Event

With OWA celebrating its centenary year, WAVE 2016 was even more upbeat than ever, especially when Tony Martella announced, at the CR Surfacing Centenary Sundowner event on Saturday evening, an offshore conference planned for Hong Kong in November. “This will be a small conference with two half-day lecture programs presented by Kate Gifford, Graham Lakkis and others, and timed to coincide with the Hong Kong Optics Fair and Trade Show,” he said. The conference, which runs from 9–11 November, is limited to 50 people. Interstate enquiries are also welcome.

Mark your diary for next year. WAVE 2017 will take place at the Rendezvous Scarborough Hotel from 12–13 August with the OWAGG lecture series on 11 August.